That Little Girl

Published under: Girls, Modern Generation Map

Who were you at 8 or 9?

Feel­ing stuck in your life?  Are you look­ing to regain a sense of potency and vibrancy?

You might find it use­ful to look back to who you were as a young girl. Back before the pres­sures of puberty, and then life in gen­eral, may have steered you onto a dif­fer­ent course.  Per­haps that lit­tle girl knew exactly who she was — and what she wanted to be when she grew up.

In her book, The Girl Within, Emily Han­cock asks us to do just that — to redis­cover the gifts and dreams we had at 8 or 9.  She refers to this period as “an interim space between fan­tasy and real­ity that fos­ters cre­ative self-ownership.” Accord­ing to her research, re-discovering the girl within — and rein­te­grat­ing that androg­y­nous lit­tle girl — appears to be the key to a woman’s identity.

I spent my child­hood just beyond the west­ern sub­urbs of Philadel­phia. A dreamy, intu­itive child, I loved music, ani­mals, and play­ing in the woods and fields that sur­rounded my home.

I would enter­tain myself for hours in my tree fort. I loved imag­in­ing that I was a secret agent solv­ing mys­ter­ies. I also loved draw­ing mazes and writ­ing about my cats. Life was good. I felt con­nected to my world.

But then, when I was 8, every­thing changed.

My mother, nine months preg­nant with my sis­ter, had a stroke. And, although this event was never spo­ken about, I felt a grow­ing sense of uneasi­ness and uncer­tainty enter my life. With a father who worked far from home — and sis­ters and a brother to look after — I was forced to become an adult way too early.

In this new real­ity there was no place for that dreamy lit­tle girl. I had to be respon­si­ble. And so, I devoted the next 30 years of my life to build­ing struc­tures that I thought would make me feel safe and secure. I got a good edu­ca­tion and what seemed like the right jobs. But, all I ended up with was a dreamy girl trapped inside a hard­ened busi­ness woman’s body (with plenty of chi­ro­prac­tic bills to show for it).

Now I’m redis­cov­er­ing that lit­tle girl — and inte­grat­ing her energy, vital­ity, and enthu­si­asm back into my life — safe in the knowl­edge that her gifts will actu­ally guide and pro­tect me on the rest of my journey.

Try look­ing back to those years — and see who you find. She might have some­thing very valu­able to teach you.

Emily Han­cock,“The Girl Within,” New York, Bal­lan­tine Books, 1989.

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One Response to That Little Girl

  1. Laura says:

    Wow…through a series of oddly unre­lated coin­ci­dences, I just stum­bled upon this web­site. EXACTLY what I need to read right here, right now.

    Luck­ily, I don’t believe in coincidences…

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